What being suicidal has taught me

Trigger Warning: The content of this piece may be upsetting and triggering to you, please read with caution.

It talks about suicide and describes a scene where those thoughts were being had. If you are struggling or are triggered please reach out for help here.

If you are struggling with these thoughts, I hope reading my experience will make you feel less alone…because you are definitely NOT alone.

Growing up, I got told countless times that people who take their own lives are selfish and during my experiences, I felt like I was encouraged to hide these thoughts to keep up appearances. As an adult, I now understand that I own my experiences and life. It is not selfish to have these thoughts and they definitely should not be hidden.

So here I am, about to share with you some of the darkest moments I’ve experienced in my life. If you’re already struggling with anxiety and depression, let me ease those worries and confirm that this story does have a happy ending. I promise. So don’t fret.

Let’s get started…

I’ve been suicidal many times in my life. Each time it’s been when I’ve gone through monumental change and struggled to cope.

The earliest time was during my first year of high school. My Fibromyalgia had kicked in and I couldn’t walk without being in severe pain. I spent a year trapped in bed and being sent back and forth from hospital. My attendance for that year of school was about 20%. I missed out on making friends and the school didn’t support me. Only one teacher sent me work to do at home and the rest of my learning was reliant on movies and magazines. I still passed most of my end of year exams, and to this day, doing that is my greatest middle finger moment to the people that didn’t support me.

Most of my memories from high school have been repressed, but I remember opening the door to suicidal thoughts. At the time I didn’t see the point in living and it felt like I was trapped in a useless body with no future.

Every day I wished I was in another body and dreamed of the freedom adult me would have. That whole experience was really defining for me as a person. It is the reason I am so ambitious and set high expectations of myself.

Unfortunately, these high expectations ended up being the reason I had my second suicidal breakdown.

The second time was after I’d just finished university. I’d spent most of my university life pushing myself. I studied during university hours, worked in retail on the weekends and during every break did work experience in central London. After spending a year in bed, I always and still do feel behind on life…like I need to work harder than everyone else to catch up.

At the time I thought putting in all this hard work would help me get that “job” trapped kid me had dreamt of all those years ago. Sadly, when I graduated I struggled to get a job. It took me a really long time to get one and I ended up falling into another career path.

Trying to get a job after university is extremely difficult and I understand anyone who gets suicidal thoughts going through this. It’s so easy to feel like a failure. Not only are you battling your own expectations of yourself, but you end up comparing yourself to your friends and the expectations society puts on you. Going into your twenties and trying to find yourself is difficult enough without doing it jobless and in crazy amounts of debt.

If this is what you’re going through, I totally feel you. I must have applied for over 100 jobs and I only got offered one — which ended up being a 3-month contract that kept getting extended. I got rejected for the majority of entry-level roles I applied for, for not having enough experience — which is the most ridiculous and unfair thing in our current job market. The worst rejection I had was for a luxury fashion company. They rang me up a month after my interview to tell me I didn’t get the job because of my bad posture. Rejection after rejection is hard and after 6ish months I lost hope and let the door to suicidal thoughts open again.

The thoughts had been brewing for a while, and then there was one day where I snapped. I had begun running a bath and my mind started spiralling with these thoughts of me letting myself down. I felt like I’d failed this trapped child in a bed. She had waited so long to see these “dreams” come true and adult me wasn’t good enough to fulfil them. My inner critic had brutally destroyed me with harsh criticism after harsh criticism.

I started crying as I undressed and as the spiral continued, I then started crying hysterically naked on the floor. After a few minutes, I then leaned over the bath and watched it slowly fill with water. It was at that moment, that I thought if I just put my head under the water, this would all be over. No more pain. No more shame. At the time I was trapped in this thought spiral and couldn’t think of anything else.

Mentally, it felt like I was hanging off a cliff and at that point in time I was holding on with one finger. I am so so thankful there was enough strength in that one finger to stop me from making the biggest mistake of my life. That time was probably the closest I’ve ever come to actually acting on those thoughts. I am very grateful for whatever broke the spiral. I don’t remember what broke it as my memories are pretty faded but in terms of feeling at the time, I could feel something holding onto my conscious. Whatever it was, it saved me.

The third time was last year. It was around my birthday and I’d been told that I most likely had Poly-Cystic Ovary Syndrome and potentially couldn’t have children. Now I have many many many family issues and I have always wanted to be a mum — so this was heartbreaking. It felt like my body was letting me down once again and this time there were additional pressures. I don’t have contact with the majority of my family and being able to have kids gave me the option of being able to create my own family to fill this void — but having reflected on this for months, I don’t believe this is a reason to have kids anymore.

When the door opened to the thoughts, I spent 48 hours merged with the sofa and bed. I don’t even remember showering, to be honest. I had mentally checked out of my body and was lost in another shame spiral, where I didn’t think I was worthy of living. Only my boyfriend saw what was going on at the time. The spiral was broken this time by talking to people and distracting myself. I chatted to a few of my friends about random things and my boyfriend proactively got me to binge TV to calm me down.

In my previous breakdowns, only my boyfriend and mother knew. I didn’t share it with anyone else because I had been conditioned to hide it and be ashamed by society.

This breakdown felt different though. It took me a week to process what had happened, but once I had, I wanted to open up to people. I didn’t want to mask what was going on this time. I get so tired of masking mental health, especially when it’s with people I care about.

I started by telling friends online over Teams calls and gaming sessions. I was super nervous but they were so supportive and understanding. They shared their experiences and it made me feel less alone. I then opened up to a female friend about it over drinks. My anxiety through the whole catch up was horrendous. My hands were shaking the entire time. I ended up having to hide the shakes by holding onto my cup for dear life. This was the first time I’d told someone in person, that wasn’t my boyfriend or mother about these thoughts. This was a really big step for me in terms of trusting someone. I think most of the day I’d avoided giving her eye contact because I felt ashamed and didn’t want to see disappointment in her eyes. The whole experience was emotionally exhausting and felt like I could barely hold a conversation afterwards.

When we went to do goodbyes at the train station, I finally built up the courage to give her full-on eye contact and in that moment I melted. There was no judgement or disappointment, nothing negative in her eyes at all. She gave me a hug and it just felt like everything was going to be okay and there was no reason to feel ashamed.

She recommended a book called “Reasons To Stay Alive” by Matt Haig. This book might be the best thing I’ve read in my entire life. It was comforting, eye-opening and really helped me get my perspective back. I read it in a few sittings and afterwards, I did a brain dump on a notepad of my “possibilities”. I listed out the stuff I dream of accomplishing and would like to work towards, along with things I haven’t done enough of yet and things I haven’t done at all. This was basically my “reasons not to give up on life” list.

I then did a pros and cons of my body and quickly realised that I wouldn’t want to give up the positives of my body to solve the negatives. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today.

My Possibilities List!

I’ve blurred some of the list to keep my anonymity. Now some of the possibilities are definitely way out there, but they wouldn’t be possibilities at all if I wasn’t alive — which is the key point of doing the list. If there’s even a 0.1% chance I might be CEO of Disney or PlayStation when I’m older, then I definitely want to stick around.

For a while this kept the door closed and the whole experience opened my eyes in terms of being able to trust people. At the time, I thought my circle only had two people, but I realised I’d been completely oblivious to how people might feel about me.

It was because of this that I started putting myself out there more and reaching out for more connections. For a really long time I didn’t think I was worthy of being liked or loved because of the trauma I’d experienced growing up. The more I spent time with people and opened up, the more I realised that I was worthy and I loved having those connections. I would often and still melt inside when I get invited to do things or even getting a hug or high five off someone.

At that point I thought I’d finally found a community that cared for me and accepted me for who I was. Then over December, I started struggling with flash backs of traumatic things from my childhood. It was a really hard time. I’d been messaging friends a lot and they kept me going during the month. Unfortunately, two days before New Years Eve, things started to go to shit. I’d gone out with some people from work, who had told me that there was a social a few weeks earlier and it had turned out that 1. I had not been invited and 2. I’d been forgotten about. This wasn’t the first time it had happened but for some reason, it stung that much more this time. Then on New Years Eve, my boyfriend got a message about a family event, where the message was worded to sound like I wasn’t considered family and not invited. This felt like a sucker punch to the stomach and the suicidal thought door swung wide open, bringing back these thoughts of feeling unwanted.

My boyfriend saw the door open and tried to calm me with hugs and soothing words but it just wasn’t working. I reached out to my female friend that I’d told in person previously. Within an hour she had calmed me down and helped me close the door. Normally my suicidal thought spirals last days, sometimes months. This time, I managed to close the door within hours. It was the quickest I’d ever closed the door and I honestly think it was down to my friend.

It was the first time I’d actively reached out for help from someone that wasn’t my mother or boyfriend — and it just hit differently. It was this experience that taught me two of my biggest life lessons so far:

The first one is don’t try and fix things on your own.

I’ve learnt mental health is not something you should try and work out on your own. Yes, it’s you that will need to put the work in, but having a network of support makes a significant difference. On New Years Eve, the door to those thoughts was closed quicker because it wasn’t just me trying to close the door…I had two other people helping. Opening up and being vulnerable with people is okay and not something to be ashamed of. Obviously, you need to be careful who you open up with because unfortunately the world isn’t a nice place. If you can find people you trust that will help you, then it can make a massive difference.

The second is (and this one I think is a hard truth) those closest to us whether by blood or relationship aren’t always fully equipped to give us the support we need.

Everyone has their own way of dealing and looking at issues, which they’ll have developed from their own life experiences. It’s easier to relate to someone who has been through similar thought spirals or thinks in a similar way to you — therefore making the support more fitting to you. I would also argue that those who are closest to us, sometimes take responsibility and blame themselves for you having these thoughts. This ends up turning the conversation to them in a negative way, rather than the focus being on helping you end the spiral.

A few other things I’ve learnt along the way…

Having these thoughts is something you shouldn’t be ashamed of.

If people judge you for it, then they’re probably not the people to have in your life full-time. A good friend is mindful and caring — not judgemental.

Once that door is open, it takes a lot of work to close it and keep it closed.

For me, once I opened that door the first time it made it easier for it to open again and again. Closing the door is one thing, but keeping it closed through times when you need to be at your resilient best is so difficult. Then there’s also the issue of intrusive thoughts. For a really long time, I thought this was just me, but having spoken to friends about it apparently I’m not alone.

In me and my friend’s experiences we sometimes get intrusive thoughts that come from the door. For me, I will be waiting at the train platform and the thought of what would happen if I just fell off the edge will pop into my head unprompted. I’m able to successfully deal with them, but it’s hard. I guess going to the other side and back, there are bound to be remnants of thoughts that sometimes pull through. I’m hoping I can work on this in therapy this year.

The last thing…Don’t give up hope ever

This is easier said than done and one I have failed at numerous times. I think having hope for a better tomorrow is key to keeping the door closed. By keeping the hope alive, you keep at least a speck of light at the end of the spiral you’re going through. It’s a reminder that there is an end to the thoughts.

As one of my fellow Disney CEO’s once said: “Around here, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things.”

Lots of love,

Leslie x

(Future CEO 😛 )

If you are struggling or have been triggered by this piece, please reach out for help here.




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Leslie Williams

Leslie Williams

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